© KEYSTONE/AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
The explosion in Beirut caused damage so extensive that only a provisional assessment is possible at this point: more than 130 people have lost their lives, 5,000 more have been injured and around 300,000 have lost their homes.
The port has been razed and the surrounding city has been devastated—windows and walls destroyed, cars swept away… It’s as though, in the space of just a few seconds, Beirut had been thrown back to the dramas of the civil war that engulfed the city in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
Lebanon was already suffering the effects of an economic crisis—this catastrophe is too much for this country to bear. As if that were not already enough, hospitals are already under immense pressure because of the coronavirus crisis, at a time when public finances are drying up.
Five of our most important partner NGOs have been active in Lebanon for decades helping Palestinian and Syrian refugees. The moment this latest disaster struck, these organisations jumped into action to help the people of Beirut affected by the explosion:
Caritas, the Swiss Red Cross, MSF/Doctors without boarders, HEKS/EPER, Medair and Terre des hommes – Child relief.
Thanks to their extensive knowledge of the country and their partnerships with local humanitarian organisations, they can provide aid in the shortest possible time.
The needs are immense and urgent.
It is not just about finding survivors in the rubble and providing the wounded with medical care, an area where the Lebanese Red Cross, supported by the Swiss Red Cross, and its volunteers play a key role.
It is also about the 300,000 people whose homes were destroyed in the explosion. While some are staying with family members, many others are taking refuge in public buildings—schools, churches, mosques—which now need to be adapted for this purpose. These people urgently need water, food and necessities such as blankets, hygiene products and cooking utensils.